Baptists and Baptism

Written by Drew on March 6th, 2006

Baptists have long denied the essentiality of baptism for salvation, a position that stands in direct contrast to passages like Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21, and others. In the past, they were brought up with this conviction and fiercely defended it.

These days I’m running into Baptists who are not aware of their own doctrine. Many with whom I have studied have professed, “I believe in baptism unto the remission of sins.” They claim that when they were baptized they had this truth in mind, and thus a rebaptism is unnecessary (cf. Acts 19:1-6).

A recent entry on one Baptist’s blog confirms their continued denial of baptism’s place in God’s plan of salvation. Read it, file it, and gently educate your friends who cannot remember why they were baptized.

 

8 Comments so far ↓

  1. Ike says:

    Drew… In our Kung Fu studies, we hold on to a basic premise: man is made of three parts; body, mind, and spirit.

    Any act of a “complete person” requires actions of all three types, if possible.

    Spiritual: a transformation of faith
    Mental: an understanding of purpose
    Physical: a movement of deliberative and unmistakable nature

    Most of us are capable of enacting our own free will along all three planes. Those who can’t (either the mentally deficient or physically unable) are not sent to hell, but are judged on what they can do. Christ does not damn those who are incapable of the acts required for the acceptance of salvation.

    That’s what we’re really getting at here: acceptance of a gift involves the whole being. If it were simply a mental exercise as danthebaptist states, we’d have a lot of last-minute Christians professing with their dying thoughts.

    Now, to another issue. The Bible does not say how much time should elapse between willingness to accept and baptism. This is usually a place where we hear hypothetical scenarios where hypothetical buses hit hypothetical proto-Christians who have changed their heart but not wet their hair.

    The Bible is silent on that.

    If someone went a few days between their decision to follow and their baptism, I’m not inclined to say that they need to be re-baptized, as long as they knew it wasn’t an “optional” part of the process.

  2. Drew Kizer says:

    Ike,

    What we’re talking about is more a matter of intent than of time. Or, to use the Kung Fu analogy, just how deliberate and unmistakable was the action?

    In the examples of conversion that we find in the New Testament, response was immediate (Acts 2:41; 8:36), even when it was after midnight in a land without heated baptisteries (Acts 16:33). The only exception I can think of is Saul of Tarsus, who was said to have sin up to the point of his baptism (Acts 22:16).

    Still, just because a person waited a few hours or days to be baptized, that doesn’t mean he thought the command was optional. Most Baptist preachers teach that a person cannot be obedient without being baptized.

    But I think that it’s important that we obey the gospel, and only the gospel. Acts 19:1-7 illustrates this point. Here we have “disciples,” twelve in number, who encounter Paul in Ephesus. They had been baptized in all sincerity and submission to what they thought was God’s word. But they had been baptized with John’s baptism after the New Testament church had been established. John’s baptism involved the wrong purpose. It had people looking for a Savior who would arrive in the future. Therefore, Paul commanded these men to be baptized again, this time in the name of, or by the authority of, Jesus Christ. They were re-baptized to make their “calling and election sure.”

    Here’s my point: This world is filled with sincere folks who were baptized for the wrong purpose (e.g., to join a church). Now they knew, just as the Ephesian disciples, that baptism was mandatory, but their heart was intent on the wrong purpose. I believe we ought to encourage these individuals to be baptized again, in accordance with the scriptural precedent, thus removing all doubt.

    At the same time, baptism is a personal decision. We should never try to make it for another person. What’s the difference between a person who is baptized just to get his friends off his back and an infant who is baptized before he has committed his first sin? Both are forced against their will. This leads us back to the importance of intent.

    It’s hard to remember what your heart was like ten, fifteen years ago. That’s why I posted the information on the Baptist position concerning baptism. Maybe someone will read it, rethink his past, and bring his life in closer harmony with the Lord’s will.

  3. The Berean Examiner says:

    Drew,

    People now do days are not being baptized with John’s baptism; They are baptized with Jesus’s baptism so your point is invalid.

    Why do you think that you must understand the purpose (remission of sins) of baptism for it to be valid?

    This is another tool that Satan is using to split the church with.

    Is the Baptist baptism valid? Yes

  4. Anonymous says:

    To answer the poster above me….

    If one doesn’t have to know why they’re being baptized, for it to be valid, why limit it to adults? If one doesn’t need to know why they should be baptized, then we should with all haste baptize every baby right after they’re born. That way, we can be sure that when they do sin, as all men eventually will, they’ll be covered.

  5. The Berean Examiner says:

    Here is a new bumber sticker for you.

    THE CHURCH OF CHRIST . . .
    PROUDLY REBAPTISING BAPTISTS SINCE 1828!!!

    or how about this one

    THE CHURCH OF CHRIST . . .
    SPLITTING YET AGAIN TO MAINTAIN GOD’S WORD

  6. The Berean Examiner says:

    Answer to your question. Why reinvent the wheel (Cut and Paste with some editing from me.) You are the one that asked this question. Sorry, it’s kinda long.

    How much must one know in order to be saved? What level of knowledge is redemptive? Will I be lost if I do not possess perfect perception of all doctrinal matters relevant to my inclusion in the One Body and my walk with the Lord? These are questions that trouble many people. And they are issues about which some disciples trouble and disturb others. If I have failed to grasp the full import of some doctrinal matter, will this cause me to be lost? If my practice is not precise, am I doomed to eternal destruction? Some believe that anyone who falls short of complete comprehension of all Truth will be cast into the lake of fire. If that is true, is there hope for any of us? Who among us dares to declare infallible insight into all Truth? If such is required for salvation, then none are saved!

    It seems to me that Drew who claim perfect understanding of all biblical matters pertaining to one’s salvation are standing dangerously close to the brink of an abominable arrogance. Paul cautioned us with these words: “Knowledge makes arrogant” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Literally, Paul says it “puffs us up!” Puffing himself up is what a bullfrog does just before he croaks! We can become swelled with the pride of our own understanding. That hardly seems redemptive. It may even cause us to “croak!” Indeed, Paul later wrote to the same disciples, “If I know all mysteries and all knowledge … but do not have love, I am nothing!” (1 Corinthians 13:2).

    Please don’t misunderstand — knowledge has its place in the redemptive process. There are things we must know. “He who comes to God must believe that He is” (Hebrews 11:6). Obviously, we can’t know all things pertaining to God, but we must come to know HE IS. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). “For I delight in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). Yes, knowledge of God is vital. We must also come to know Jesus Christ as Savior! The question is not really, “Is knowledge necessary?” The answer is an obvious YES. The real question is, “How MUCH knowledge is necessary?” Most will agree on the “major” matters (existence of God, deity of Jesus Christ, etc.); the real rub comes when matters of understanding trickle down to the particulars of our personal responses, beliefs and practices. What degree of knowledge or understanding with regard to music in worship is redemptive, for example? What degree of knowledge or understanding with regard to the use of the treasury is redemptive? How about what can or can’t be done in a “church building?” We could go on and on. Can we lack knowledge in some of these areas and still be saved? Can we differ in understanding and practice with others in such matters and still be brethren? It is my conviction we can. To suggest otherwise is merely to validate the continued fragmentation of the family of God over differing personal preferences and perceptions.

    Romans 6:17. Paul informs those who have been delivered from their slavery to sin that they are now servants of righteousness (vs. 18). They should consider themselves “dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (vs. 11). It was also important for them to realize that they are no longer “under law, but under grace” (vs. 14). As those alive to God in Christ, living in grace and servants of righteousness, they must daily present themselves as “slaves for obedience” to their Lord and Master (vs. 16). In the context of this discussion we find the expression of thankfulness contained in verse 17 — although formerly in bondage, they have become free through “obedience from the heart” to that “form of doctrine,” or “teaching,” to which they were entrusted (NIV) or “delivered” (NKJV), or to which they “were committed” (NASB).

    Obedience “from the heart” is in direct contrast to a shallow obedience for the sake of appearance. This difference is very dramatically portrayed by Paul in his words to slaves in Ephesians 6:5-6. Their service and obedience was to be “in the sincerity of your heart” … “not by way of eyeservice” … but “doing the will of God from the heart.” This speaks to motivation. Paul preached unto the Romans the gospel of grace, but what was their motivation for obeying? Did it come from the heart? Paul suggests it did. As R.C.H. Lenski points out, in his commentary on Romans, this obedience “was not a mere form” (p. 425). They did not respond merely by submitting to ritual, but truly obeyed from the heart. This is a vital distinction.

    David Lipscomb, in his commentary on Romans, wrote, “A peculiarity of the dispensation of Christ is that the service must be from the heart — that is, an outward performance without the desire of the heart to obey God is not acceptable. All service, then, must spring from the desire to obey God. It is the leading motive of all service” (vol. 1, p. 122). Moses E. Lard, in his own commentary, stated, “You obeyed sincerely and earnestly; your heart and will were in the act. All obedience to Christ should be thus characterized” (p. 213).
    Form and ritual matter little if the heart is not involved. Paul commends these brethren for obeying the gospel “from the heart.” They didn’t just go through the motions; they didn’t just put on a show. They committed themselves fully to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some people today believe Paul’s phrase “form of doctrine” (Romans 6:17) has reference to the rite of immersion. Even though such is discussed in the early verses of this chapter, I nevertheless believe this is too restrictive and limiting an interpretation. Brother Moses E. Lard concurs with this assessment, writing, “The expression tupon didaches is sometimes rendered type of doctrine, and held to denote baptism. But this is too special. The expression includes baptism, but does not stand for it exclusively. The Scriptures should never be forced to teach what is not clearly in them” (p. 214).

    In other words, it is not the intricacies and particulars of religious form that Paul has in view in this passage …. it is the motivation of the heart of the one who responds to the message of God’s grace. There is no question as to the importance of obedience. No one will argue with that. After all, Jesus Christ has become “to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). But, it must be obedience from the heart. It must be genuine, heart-felt, sincere!

    Is it possible for obedience to be “from the heart,” and yet, at the same time, be lacking in complete or perfect understanding? If the latter is the case, does that invalidate, and make null and void, the former? In other words, is obedience from the heart worthless without accompanying understanding of the mind? This is really the question. What level of understanding is redemptive? Which carries more weight in obedience — sincerity of heart or clarity of mind? Are promises of God withheld from His children until such time as they fully comprehend every aspect of the doctrine and practice pertaining to the promise? If this is true, then I doubt anyone has, or ever will, obtain any promise proffered by our Father. If redemption, justification, sanctification, and salvation are conditioned upon a response of faith accompanied with perfect perception …. we are without hope.

    I was almost twelve years old when I was immersed into Christ. How much did I understand about baptism at that time in my life? Very little, I can assure you. However, I loved the Lord and I knew it was something He wanted me to do. Because I loved Him, I obeyed Him. After all, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). He also said, “You are My friends, if you do what I command you” (John 15:14), and “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (John 15:10). I kept His command. I therefore obtained the promise. Could I have written a doctoral dissertation on the spiritual significance of immersion at the age of eleven? Of course not. And thank God I didn’t have to! Knowledge is something we GROW in as we develop in our relationship with Him. Peter characterizes new converts to Christ as “newborn babes” who are to “GROW in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Peter further urges us to “GROW in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). There is much we don’t know as we enter Christ and take those first tentative steps in our walk with Him. As one matures in the faith, however, insight will follow. Must we go back and repeat baptism every time we come to a better perception of what that immersion entailed? Of course not. We’d be constantly walking that “sawdust trail” if that was the case. If we “obey from the heart,” fuller understanding will follow. Perfect understanding, however, will never come to us …. not this side of Heaven, anyway!

    Let me illustrate this principle from Acts 2:38 — “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” How many new converts do you know who could, at the moment of their baptism, explain the nature and significance of the gift of the Holy Spirit? Isn’t that also a promise conditioned upon one’s response of faith as evidenced in immersion? If we don’t fully understand all aspects of this promised gift of the Holy Spirit, do we therefore NOT receive that gift?! I know of ELDERS and PREACHERS who can’t explain what the gift of the Holy Spirit is. Are they thereby devoid of the Spirit? Is perfect understanding required before God will dispense the promised gift? I don’t believe anyone would suggest such. Therefore, WHY — within the parameters of the very same verse — do some demand perfect understanding of all aspects of immersion before the promise of forgiveness of sins is conferred?! If one is “obedient FROM THE HEART” … if one loves the Lord and obeys the command … is this not sufficient unto the reception of the promise? I believe it is!

    Yes, we who are proclaimers of Truth, should, in our teaching, emphasize the fullness of the purpose and significance of immersion to those whom we are teaching. But, if they fail to fully grasp it, or if one comes to us who WAS immersed into Christ Jesus because they understood it was commanded by Him, and they loved Him so much they wanted to “obey from the heart,” and yet they didn’t fully comprehend some of the blessings associated with their compliance, I would personally not suggest they had to “do over” the rite of baptism. Instead, I would simply help them to grow in the knowledge and appreciation of the significance of that teaching they had already “obeyed from the heart,” and help them to perceive a bit more than they had previously the promise that our Lord had conferred upon them when they responded in faith to His command. May one be baptized apart from perfect perception of the full significance of that action and still be saved? My answer is an emphatic YES!! The gifts of our Father are not conditioned upon the perfect insight of His children. They are conditioned upon LOVE. He loves us and we love Him … and the blessings flow!

    This obsession on the part of Brother Drew with the exact second God imparts some gift, or the level of comprehension of the respondent, misses the whole point of God’s love and grace, and it also misses the point of man’s faith. Thank God we have a Father who judges hearts, not the measure of our intellect. If redemption is via knowledge, we are all lost.

  7. Dan Reed says:

    For a person to say that a man has to get into the water and be baptized after accepting the free gift of Jesus Christ to be saved then what you are saying is that Jesus Christ is not enough for Salvation.

    One of the examples he used to make his point was the jailor in Acts 16. “Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
    Acts 16:29-34 (KJV)

    Notice that all Paul told him he had to do to be saved was to “believe” That word means to put your trust or faith in. THEN after the man was saved he was then Baptized. You see the first act of obedience of a new convert in Christ is to be baptized.

    So what he would have had a heart attack and died on his way home after “believing” before he could get baptized? Would he have went to hell?

    Another question a person that believes one must be baptized in order to be saved can never answer is. What about the thief on the Cross? And please do not tell me that Jesus had not died yet and He could still do anything he wanted.

    I guess all the Old Testament saints are in Hell! You see the OT saints were not saved by any covenant they were saved because of faith. So is faith not enough for us but is was for them?

    Let me also give you another verse that is always used to try to prove their point. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”. Acts 2:38 (KJV)

    At first glance this verse seems to prove that a man needs to repent + be baptized in order to be saved. But the word “for” in this verse has a little different meaning in the Greek than in our English language. The word “for” in the Greek is the word “ece” it is pronounced like we would pronounce the word ICE. “ECE” means because of. Now look at the verse again. Be Baptized because of the remission of sin. You see when you get saved your sins are forgiven and you are saved and the next step a new believer does is be baptized.

    One more and I am done. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
    John 3:5-7 (KJV) This text is from that very famous conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. Jesus tells him that a man must be born again. He must be born first by the water and by the Spirit. Now even if this was talking about the baptismal water would it not be out of order? I mean even those who hold this belief say that faith comes before baptism. What Jesus is telling Nick here is that first you must be born of the water which is the natural birth of your mother. The amniotic fluid of the mother and then you must sometime in your life be born of the Spirit. I mean think about the whole context is “you must be born again” Born once of your mother born again in Jesus Christ. He even backs up my statement with the next verse that says that which is Flesh is flesh (natural Birth) that which is Spirit is Spirit (birth in Christ).

    I do not believe that the Bible in no way teaches that a person has to be baptized in order to be saved but it does teach that it is the first step of obedience to a new believer to make his conversion public.

    I love this one. Well why did Jesus get Baptized? Well I believe He got baptized to put his blessings on the ministry of John the (Southern) Baptist. But one thing I know for sure is if He did not get Baptized so that He could go to Heaven.

    God Bless
    Dan Reed

  8. Daniel Stearsman says:

    Dan,

    Greetings. This is certainly a needed discussion. If I may ask a few questions.

    First, if “eis” in Acts 2:38 means “because of” would you advocate that a person repents “because” he is already saved?

    The preposition “Eis” is conditioned on the completion of two verbs in Acts 2:38. Would you contend that for one verb “eis” means “repent for the remmission of sins” and for the other verb “be baptized because of of the remission of sins”?

    Careful examination of the occurences of the prepositional phrase “eis aphesin harmartion” shows that in every instance in the KJV (and other translations as well) that it is rendered “for the remission of sins”, and never “becuase of the remission of sins.” See Matt. 26:28, Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3. It also occurs in Luke 24:47 where the phrase is translated simply “remission of sins.” This is why virtually no translation renders it “because of”. The prepositional phrase is never translated in a retrospective causal manner.

    Paul states that a person contacts the blood of Christ at baptism (Rom. 6:1-8). Prior to being baptized a person remains in sin. He is an old man still in his sins (6:6). In baptism he buries a man buries that old man in the watery grave. It is then that person will arise and walk in newness of life (6:4). If a person is saved prior to baptism, is it then a practice of burying the spiritually living (no sins) people? Paul says prior to baptism, a person is still in their sins and that they are an enslaved old man of sin. In Galations 3:27 Paul states that when one is baptized he puts on Christ. So, we can conclude that according to the Bible until a person has been baptized he has not put on Christ and that a person when baptized puts on Christ.

    Baptism doesn’t negate belief. There are numerous passages that teach the essential nature of baptism(Acts 2:38, Mark 16:15-16, 1 Peter 3:21). To recieve the grace of God given in salvation we must comply with the provisions for receiving that gift. To deny any provision is to refuse the gift.

    Thank you for the discussion. May God bless us all as we believe and study carefully His pure word!

    I hope the mission work in Russia is going well for Drew!

    Sincerely,

    Daniel Stearsman

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